Everyone has heard of the Tree of Life that was in the Garden of Eden. Very few people are aware that this Tree of Life is also referred to four more times in the Hebrew Bible, all of them in the Book of Proverbs.

By examining these four references we can learn very important things about the Tree of Life (Positive Feelings) that stood next to the (Morality) Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden.

Proverbs 15:4 teaches us that just by speaking words of kindness and comfort we are able to strengthen, revive and heal a human’s spirit; while speaking nasty words of anger, hate and meanness are able to crush people’s spirits, “A soothing tongue is a Tree of Life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit. (NIV trans)

Today we are so concerned with freedom of speech that we have lost awareness of our responsibility to always use our tongues kindly as a Torah of kindness (Proverbs 31:26).

Politicians and religious leaders especially need to follow this Tree of Life teaching during elections and every day of the year.

Proverbs 13:12 teaches us the importance of our seeking to realize our longings for love and peace, because negativity, cynicism and despair destroy our spirits. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a Tree of Life” that makes us productive and generous.

Proverbs 3:18 tells us that by making a strong commitment to embrace Torah teachings we will live a life of goodness and love. “She (Torah wisdom) is a Tree of Life to those who embrace her; those who hold her tight will be happy.” The rabbis took the feminine words wisdom and Torah as interchangeable.

Finally, Proverbs 11:30 teaches us that doing good deeds to help others is a good way to save/improve their lives, and in the process, our lives. “The fruit of the righteous is a Tree of Life, and one who is wise saves/improves lives.”

Here are five Rabbinic elucidations that specify who is wise and saves lives.

Who is wise? One who can learn from everyone. Talmud Avot
Who is wise? One who foresees coming events. Talmud Tamid
Who is wise? One who knows his own shortcomings. Omer HaShikhah
Who is wise? One who understands hidden agendas. Kabbalah Zohar
Who is wise? One who raises up disciples. Sifrei